Certain things start Monday off on the wrong foot, and reading the above-referenced letter to the Source is one of them. Let's frame the issue in its proper perspective: with the exception of the criminal element, most Virgin Islanders (regardless of nativity or length of residency) are deeply troubled by the increasing cycle of violence sweeping the territory. That's the easy part. What requires the wisdom of Solomon is the solution. When confronted by problems–large or small–the all to predictable tendency is to look for scapegoats. In the matter at hand, its firearms.
The Virgin Islands has long required the registration of firearms. Note that I use "firearms" instead of "guns": "guns" properly refer to artillery pieces, commonly referred to as cannons. In the last half-century, the application process has become increasingly onerous for the law-abiding citizen, with "permission" (which is of questionable legality) granted on subjective grounds…trust me, dear readers, I know of which I speak. Federal law and the Virgin Islands Code contain a number of statutes dealing with firearms and their illegal use.
To what end? The local registration of firearms has done nothing to curb their illegal use: I challenge Police Department officials, or even Mr. Fagan, to demonstrate what percentage of so-called "gun crime" has been or is perpetrated with registered weapons. On the other hand, one can read about plea-bargains and minimum sentences for individuals caught with automatic or altered weapons (e.g, sawed-off barrels or obliterated serial numbers) in spite of laws that would–without fail–entitle the winner at an all expense paid vacation at a federal resort for many years.
But, silly fellow, logic is trumped by emotion. The simplistic solution is to disarm the law-abiding citizen, which would then certainly make the territory safer for the criminal element. With that philosophy in mind, indulge my sarcasm while I propose some other measures that would serve to enhance the public safety. Since the registration of vehicles has not prevented their misuse, motor vehicles and bicycles should be banned. The same should apply to certain types of potentially dangerous sports equipment (such as baseball bats and golf clubs), and, heaven forbid, kitchen utensils (such as knives, forks, pots and pans).
What Mr. Fagan conveniently ignores is this: the right (not "privilege" or "permission") to own firearms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Its not for him or anyone else to deprive US citizens of this (or any other right) because you don't like it or because it is not part of your particular cultural orientation. Anyone would "go ballistic"–and rightfully so–if I were to propose that the Virgin Islands become a First Amendment-free territory, because then we would be spared having to hear or read drivel of the sort that provoked me to write this letter in the first place.
Whether you agree or disagree with what I have written here is your privilege as I have exercised mine. For those who may be incensed enough to beat me around the ears in the exercise of their First Amendment rights, I offer a simple suggestion: save the space and don't suggest that I go back where I came from. It would be far more constructive in dealing with the matter at hand to approach the violence problem seriously and holistically from its social, economic, and spiritual dimensions.
William Fleming Cissel
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